ARM-based exascale supercomputer takes top spot, tackles Covid-19

June 24, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
The Fugaku ARM-based supercomputer in Japan is the world's most powerful supercomputer with performance over 1 exaflop, and is being used to model drugs to fight Covid-19
Fugaku in Japan is the first ARM-based supercomputer to be the world's most powerful, with performance over 1 exaflops, and is being used to model drugs to fight Covid-19

A supercomputer in Japan based in chips using the ARM architecture is the world’s highest performance system for the first time. The system is being used to model the Covid-19 virus as part of the fight against the pandemic.

Fugaku, built with Fujitsu’s 48-core A64FX system on chip, has a High Performance Linpack (HPL) result of 415.5 petaflops. This is nearly three times the performance of the previous leading supercomputer, Summit, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee. 

The system has 158,976 nodes in 432 racks with a total of 4.85 PBytes of memory connected at 163PB/s. In a move away from the traditional flashing lights, the middle four racks are blank, allowing a video projection of Mt Fuji (another name for Fugaku) as the startup sequency.

In single or further reduced precision, which are often used in machine learning and AI applications, Fugaku’s peak performance is over 1,000 petaflops (1 exaflops), ushering in the exascale age in supercomputing.

The new system is installed at RIKEN Center for Computational Science (R-CCS) in Kobe, Japan. Researchers are using it to evaluate the effectiveness of over 2,000 drugs that could be used ot treat patients of Covid-19.

“I hope that the cutting-edge IT developed for Fugaku will contribute to major advances on difficult social challenges such as Covid-19,” said Satoshi Matsuoka, the head of Riken’s centre for computational science.

The most energy-efficient system on the Green500 is the MN-3, based on a new server from Preferred Networks. It achieved a record 21.1 gigaflops/watt during its 1.62 petaflops performance run. The system derives its superior power efficiency from the MN-Core chip, an accelerator optimized for matrix arithmetic. It is ranked number 395 in the TOP500 list.

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